Central Coast captain Alex Wilkinson has cautioned against an all-out attacking approach in Sunday's clash with Brisbane Roar, despite the Mariners needing to overturn a two-goal deficit to reach the A-League grand final.
The clubs meet in the major semi-final second leg at Bluetongue Stadium, with the Roar already having one foot in the competition decider after an impressive 2-0 win in the first leg at Suncorp Stadium.
While defence has been the strong point of Central Coast's premiership-winning season, they will have to rely on attack to avoid moving into a sudden-death preliminary final against Perth or Wellington.
Wilkinson knows the Mariners need to score first but said it could be suicidal to push too many players forward early against the dangerous Roar.
"We're not going to change how we play too much and we don't have to win the tie in the first five minutes," Wilkinson said on Thursday.
"There's no point going out and pushing five, six players up front.
"We've got to be a bit patient as well and when the time comes, really go for it.
"We've just got to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal and when we get our chances we've got to put them away because Brisbane are a good team and if you give them too many chances, they'll definitely put them away."
Wilkinson said the Mariners were taking confidence from last year's major semi-final, when they trailed 2-0 heading into the second leg and scored twice to level the tie, only to concede a further two goals.
The veteran defender said the squad was in good shape and injury-free after Tuesday's 1-1 draw with South Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in Gosford.
Both A-League sides head into Sunday's match amid heavy schedules, with the Roar potentially more vulnerable after an away 1-1 draw with South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday night.
But Wilkinson said the Mariners would not be counting on their great rivals being below their best.
"We're concentrated on ourselves and what we can do," Wilkinson said.
"If they're a bit tired, that would be great, but I'm not expecting that. They've got a few days to recover and they've got a full squad to choose from at the moment as well."
The Mariners must overcome a remarkably poor home record against the Roar, having not beaten them at Bluetongue Stadium in 13 attempts.